NEWS BLOG from UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Glimmer of Hope Continues Support of UPMC Premenopausal Breast Cancer Research and Care


On Monday night, A Glimmer of Hope Foundation, a Pittsburgh-based breast cancer organization, will host its annual Bid for Hope, which raises money and awareness for premenopausal breast cancer research at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC and the Magee-Womens Research Institute (MWRI). Over the past 15 years, Glimmer of Hope and its Bid for Hope event have been instrumental in providing funding to assist in the development of clinical research to patient services for young women with breast cancer.

A total of $150,000 has been raised from this event, and 100 percent of the proceeds will support breast cancer research and care, including patient navigation, supporting integrative medicine such as massage and acupuncture, as well as enhanced mammography research at Magee and MWRI for patients with metastatic breast cancer.

“We are honored to present our gift to Magee,” said Diana Napper, founder and president of A Glimmer of Hope Foundation. “We believe in the care Magee provides for the women in our community and beyond, and with this gift, new research and continued guidance will allow that care to grow even stronger.”

Over the past 15 years, Glimmer of Hope and the event have been instrumental in providing funding to assist in the development of clinical research to patient services for young women with breast cancer at Magee and MWRI. To date, the annual event has been the catalyst for raising $2 million for the cause.

“Over the years, support for premenopausal breast cancer from and A Glimmer of Hope Foundation has been unwavering,” said Judy Herstine, administrator of the women’s cancer program at Magee. “The services they help us provide truly make a difference in the lives of our patients every day, and the research they support will bring us a greater understanding of the disease we are fighting together.”

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UPMC and Pitt School of Pharmacy Host Drug Take-Back Day


UPDATE ON OCT. 24: This year’s events at 14 UPMC facilities and the University of Pittsburgh’s Nordenberg Pharmacy collected nearly 1,200 pounds of unwanted medications, eliminating their potential for abuse or improper disposal.

Abusive use of prescription pain killers and over-the-counter drugs has been on the rise in recent years. Consumption of unused or expired drugs could have negative consequences for people who take them, and improper disposal can be harmful for the environment. Drug Take-Back Days are critical in preventing drug overdose, illicit drug use and water contamination.

UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy have once again partnered with local security forces and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to host Drug Take-Back Day. Members of the general public are invited to anonymously turn in their unused or expired drugs for proper disposal on Friday. The events are free, and those who dispose of their drugs are encouraged to conceal their personal information on prescription medication vials.

Except where noted below, all locations are open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, and all medications must be in their original containers.

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Honoring UPMC’s Service Heroes


People may not be able to see their capes, but there are service superheroes at UPMC.

They are the winners of UPMC’s Award for Commitment and Excellence in Service for 2016 — a group of employees recognized for delivering life changing medicine each and every day.

This year, UPMC celebrated and honored 251 individuals and one team from across the health system whose outstanding achievements support UPMC’s values and commitment to putting patients, employees, health plan members and the community at the center of what they do.

Those honored included:

  • A patient business services representative who doesn’t rest until her customers gets the financial assistance they need.
  • An environmental services team member who accompanied a senior resident to surgery because she had no family to wait for her.
  • A nurse who performed CPR and saved a life – on her wedding day.
  • A health plan representative who advocated for a member and her family when they were almost out of options, getting her the treatment she desperately needed.
  • A nutrition manager who investigated every menu item to help protect a patient with an unusual food allergy.

“These exceptional people embody the values that drive all that we do at UPMC,” said Greg Peaslee, executive vice president and chief administrative officer for UPMC. “Life changing ideas, innovative solutions, and, most of all, compassionate care start with them. Simply put, each of them, through their actions, make UPMC a better place to work.”


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UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute Adds Two New Physicians

One of the world’s premier centers for comprehensive cardiac care, the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute recently added two new physicians who will aid in the development of revolutionary devices and new models of treatment that will improve the lives of those facing the most complex heart and vascular conditions.

Christopher Sciortino, M.D., joined as the surgical director of the Advanced Heart Failure Center and will help lead UPMC’s efforts in heart transplantation and mechanical circulatory support with ventricular assist devices (VAD), as well as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). He has also been appointed assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

sciortino_christopher_md_card_surg_transplant_20161011_“I look forward to working with a highly motivated team of health care providers, researchers and business leaders who have a passion for their mission to administer to the sick of our community,” Dr. Sciortino said. “UPMC has an important place in the history of development of cardiac transplantation and mechanical support devices.  It is considered by many one of the founding institutions that brought these therapies into the mainstream of cardiovascular treatment.”

Dr. Sciortino joins UPMC from Johns Hopkins University, where he served as assistant professor of surgery, surgical chief of mechanical surgery support and heart transplantation, and director of adult extracorporeal life support. He has an extensive background in bioengineering research and will join the team at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, where he will pursue research in both heart transplantation and VAD development. (more…)

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Pitt Physician Receives Highest Honor from Chinese Government


Timothy Billiar, M.D., George Vance Foster Professor and chair in the Department of Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and associate medical director, UPMC International, recently traveled to Beijing to receive the Friendship Award, the highest recognition bestowed by the People’s Republic of China to foreign experts who have made outstanding contributions to the country’s economic and social progress.

Dr. Billiar was nominated by Central South University in Changsha, Hunan, China for his work in developing student and physician exchange programs, and for his role in developing a Chinese medical student research training program at the Pitt School of Medicine.

“Our collaboration with colleagues in China has been of great mutual benefit as we work to advance medical science,” Dr. Billiar said. “I am truly honored to receive this recognition from the Chinese government.”

Every year, 50 foreign experts are selected for the Friendship Award. This year, recipients came from 18 foreign countries and included experts in the fields of industry, science and technology, medicine, agriculture, energy, environmental protection and education.

In addition to Pitt’s academic partnerships, UPMC International currently works with several partners in China to provide world-class care close to patients’ homes, including second-opinion telepathology services for KingMed Diagnostics, operational support for Xiangya International Medical Center in Changsha, and development of oncology services on Hainan Island in collaboration with  First Chengmei Medical Industry Group.

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